“When things go well, farming is exceptionally rewarding” – Mary Brough

Farmer Mary Brough stars in the Abbot Hall Art Galley exhibition “Tracing the Landscape: Cumbrian Farm Women”.

Focussing on women who make their mark in the male-dominated world of agriculture, the multi-media exhibition has been created by artist Patricia MacKinnon-Day.

Patricia spent a year with five farm women across Cumbria. Aged between 30 and 80, some have managed farms for generations, others are newer to the sector.

One of the farmers, Mary Brough (pictured below), took time from her busy schedule to speak about her life. And share some fantastic images she’s taken documenting her daily work.

Mary Brough 4
Selfie with her sheep: Mary Brough

What does your farm specialise in?

My farm is Chapel House Farm in Uldale. Sheep farming is my main enterprise. The females are sold to other farms for breeding ewes and the males are sold for meat as hoggets at approximately a year old. We also sell wool but that now only covers the cost of shearing. I also rear dairy heifers for my husband and son’s dairy farm and produce a small amount of beef from cattle used as environmental grazing.

Mary Brough 2
Spring is sprung ©MaryBrough

How does it feel to be a woman farmer?

I don’t think of myself as a woman farmer, just a farmer with strengths and weaknesses like anyone else. Maybe this is because I’ve been doing it a long time and earned the respect of my local colleagues.

Mary Brough 3
Wild winter ©MaryBrough

What’s it like being part of an exhibition?

I found participating in the exhibition interesting as I got to meet other women involved in farming. Farming on an isolated farm involves spending a large amount of time with just sheep and dogs for company.

Mary Brough 1

What challenges are there to women farmers in 2018?

I don’t think the challenges I face are any different to men doing the same job. As most of the population is now divorced from the land, a lack of understanding of how food is produced and how the landscape and farming are intertwined, are the biggest problems we face. Also misinformation spread by activist groups is a huge problem.

Mary Brough 5

How does summer farming compare to the winter?

Farming is busy year-round and each season has its own jobs. But for me personally the constant battle with the wet and cold in winter and spring are the biggest problems.

What message would you give to young people (and especially girls) becoming farmers?

My type of hill farming is physically and mentally demanding. Anyone starting off should be prepared to work long hours and give it their all. It is a lifestyle not a job.  When things go well it is exceptionally rewarding. I put up with a lot for those special magic moments.

Mary Brough 6
Tracing the Landscape: Cumbrian Farm Women, is on at Abbot Hall Art Gallery until closing time on Saturday 9 June 2018.

There’s an app for that! Kaleidoscopic pictures of Blackwell


We’re using a free app, KaleidaCam, to play with pattern and symmetry at Blackwell. You can download the app before visiting Blackwell or sign out an ipad at the front desk to create your own kaleidoscopic patterns. The activity is inspired by Di Mainstone’s Time Mirror, a movable sculpture that captures many-mirrored views of the house and landscape. The Time Mirror will be at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House from 18 May to September 2018 as part of Lakes Ignite 2018.



The KaleidaCam app has a live camera feature that turns your phone into a kaleidoscope and transforms everyday items into beautiful and complex patterns. Blackwell is full of decorative details that come to life when you look at them through this lens. We hope that visitors will explore Blackwell from floor to ceiling as they hunt for patterns in the stained-glass windows, hand painted tiles, peacock frieze and hand carved woodwork.

This app can also be used in the gardens to create patterns from nature. Blackwell’s architect, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott brought people closer to nature through organic designs. His tombstone reads ‘Nature I loved, and next to nature art’.

More about the KaleidaCam app:

  • The live camera feature alters what you see on your screen as you are taking a picture. You can also alter images you have already taken.
  • The app has four different kaleidoscopic designs you can choose from.
  • You can touch the screen to zoom in, rotate the angle or increase the lines of symmetry.


Download the free app here

Share your images of Blackwell with us on Instagram @BlackwellArtsAndCrafts, Twitter @LakelandArts and Facebook @BlackwellArtsAndCrafts